The space between DMB markets Hollywood
“Please get rid of DMBeat,” goes the impassioned cry. We hear it; we’re just not buying it. As far as we can tell, detractors of this occasional column hail from one of two camps: those who claim close friendship with The Dave, and those who claim they don’t read it.
Well, we say this: thou protesteth too much. You’ve already read this far, so wash our ink off your hand, and count on us keep your dirty little secret. —ed.
If you have tired of hearing Dave croon “The Space Between” over the ubiquitous commercials for Black Hawk Down, you’re not alone. Relax, the film’s a huge hit. It’s sure to top $100 million at the box office.
That success has already lessened the ad blitz and put some “space” between the movie and the song. And while this particular marketing blitz may have ended, the practice of hit-song-meets-potential blockbuster is no coincidence.
Black Hawk Down is the first post-September 11 war film to be released, and “The Space Between” is the track from Everyday nominated for a Grammy this year. Get the picture? True Hollywood cross-pollination.
While the song has no imaginable connection with the film, it is the first of the band’s songs associated with a movie that doesn’t appear in the film— or even the soundtrack album.
DMB management and the band’s label, RCA/BMG, must have been delighted to lend the song to the commercial. After all, putting DMB songs in films hasn’t exactly worked wonders. No fewer than five films have licensed DMB material for soundtrack or background music. While the chosen songs have been among the band’s most recognizable, they couldn’t save this string of forgettables:
White Man’s Burden (1995)— “Tripping Billies”
Excess Baggage (1997)— “Crash Into Me”
Freeriders (1998)— “Stay”
Fifty (1999)— “Crush”
Joe Dirt (2001)— “Crash Into Me”
This record of abysmal soundtrack sales may change, however, as Matthews has collaborated with the legendary Johnny Cash on a song to be included on the soundtrack for the upcoming Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers. Entitled “For You,” the song is described by Cash’s manager as “dark alternative country” in the vein of material from Cash’s latest recording, American III: Solitary Man.
Longtime fan Matthews met the Man in Black during an all-star tribute to the elder singer in 1999 and has performed a version of “Long Black Veil,” long associated with Cash, in concert.
Films: where the green cash grows?
Music isn’t Dave’s only contribution to the world of cinema. It’s no secret that Dave is also an actor— an avocation that preceded the formation of the band— and many locals recall with both fondness and critical praise his performances with Offstage and Live Arts.
But aside from music videos, Dave has barely dabbled in film since the band’s rise to fame. Regrettably, the one film Matthews actually starred in, an adaptation of the beloved children’s book Where The Red Fern Grows (and a remake of the 1974 film of the same name) came to a halt when the production company ran out of money in 1999. Since then, would-be matinee idol Matthews most recently considered, then declined, a role in 24 Hours, a thriller starring Kevin Bacon, Courtney Love, and Charlize Theron set for release later this year.
Now comes word that the power of Dave has created a film distribution company. Dubbed According To Our Pictures (ATO Pictures), the new company was recently formed by the founders of Dave’s ATO Records, along with veteran filmmakers Jonathan Dorfman and Temple Fennell. Fennell is the Charlottesvillian well known for playing a role in the creation of Boxer Learning, an interactive educational firm, and BoxerJam, the downsized-but-still-kicking online games-maker he started with Jeopardy! creator Julann Griffin.
Fennell says he spends his evenings reading scripts before passing the best ones along to Dave. ATO’s first deal is distributing Amandla!, a film about the role of music in overturning apartheid in South Africa.
Amandla! won both the Documentary Audience Award and the Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Roger Ebert has called Amandla! both “sorrowful and joyous” and predicts that the music “will inspire a CD to rival Buena Vista Social Club.”
So guess who bought rights to the soundtrack? You guessed it: ATO Records. Dave and his buddies aren’t dumb.
It was ATO Records that helped Welsh-English unknown David Gray rise to superstardom back in 2000. Can the touch of Dave have the same effect on indie films?
“Having David’s name attached,” acknowledges Fennell, “brings additional recognition.”
Fans wishing to see Dave on the big screen will likely have a long wait, as the band has been busy recording its next album, reportedly self-producing and mixing reworked material from the “Lillywhite Sessions” and a crop of new songs Matthews wrote while on tour last year.
“We’ll probably go back to some of those [sessions],” Matthews told an interviewer in December, “but seeing as a lot of that is out [on the Internet], we don’t want to be too repetitious.”
Nevertheless, DMB reportedly hasn’t ruled out releasing another single from Everyday— perhaps “When The World Ends,” the single selected for release before September 11 and exchanged for the title track.
Assuming “The Space Between” earns the band its second Grammy later this month, an honor that traditionally refuels aging album sales, fans are likely to hear many of the album’s hits when DMB hits the road again in April. (This year’s tour is a 33-date jaunt through North America kicking off in Washington, D.C., on April 4.)
There was a hiatus in DMBeat during the move from C-ville to The Hook, but the sale of the legendary Trax/Max nightclub to the UVA medical center (which will demolish the property for its own expansion) can’t be overlooked. The news stunned both patrons of the padlocked club and those lucky enough to have witnessed the early DMB hone their concert act on its stage.
Before its July 2001 closure, Trax was not only Virginia’s longest-running music venue, but also a DMB landmark: the Mecca for Daveheads who make the pilgrimage to their hero’s hometown. Along with Richmond’s Flood Zone, another defunct DMB landmark, Trax now joins the dustbin of Central Virginia music history. It will be missed.
Chicago tops 2001 live list
DMB’s Live in Chicago 12-19-98, the band’s fourth live release, became the highest charting live recording of 2001, making its debut at No. 6 late last year on the Billboard charts. Live albums were among the country’s bestsellers of 2001.Read more on: dave matthews band